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VB Season Preview: Middle Blockers

Young group up front for Blue Raiders in 2012

August 21, 2012 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Much like the setters previewed yesterday, the Middle Tennessee volleyball team's corps of middle blockers is young. It's up to sophomore Monet Marshall, redshirt-freshman Tyler Richardson, and freshman Rachel Shaughnessy to pace what was the second-leading block in the Sun Belt a year ago. However, head coach Matt Peck is confident in what this group can contribute this season.

"Monet and Tyler were both in our program last year so we've worked them plenty," said Peck. "They know our system and know what we want. They're also two of our best blockers, very quick and have good footwork. I don't think we'll lose anything in the blocking department. We're still working offensively with them with two freshman setters."

Middle Tennessee was second in the Sun Belt in blocks in 2011, averaging 2.56 per set. Seniors Oyinlola Oladinni and Lindsay Cheatham were both in the top-five individually in blocks last season.

"There's a lot of pressure on us because we haven't had that much time on the court," said Marshall. "This is my first year playing more and having to step into Lindsay and Stacy's shoes. It's a lot of pressure, but I'm sure we can do it."

The three middle blockers for the Blue Raiders look to make an impact not only blocking balls at the net, but also being a key part of the offense.

"A lot of the offense depends on the middle," Marshall added. "If you don't pull your blocker, it's your fault the outside got hit. If you're not up and don't affect the other side of the net then things aren't going to work out. No matter what, you have to be up for every ball in the air whether or not the ball is set to you."

"We do know this is a young position for us, but with how well our outside hitters are playing, a lot should open up for our middles to score points and do a good job with blocking."

Shaughnessy is the newest addition to the Blue Raiders' group of middle blockers. She was an All-State performer at Soddy-Daisy High School and has impressed the coaching staff. However, Peck says it will take great from all three middles for Middle Tennessee to play well in 2012.

"Rachel Shaughnessy has been doing an amazing job in practice," Peck said. "She's kind of surprised us. She is a very good blocker and may be, offensively, a little behind the other two but not much. It's going to be interesting for us this weekend. We're going to try a lot of different things, but all three of them are going to play a lot this year depending on what our needs are."

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